Anheuser-Busch Drops Trademark Opposition Against Natty Greene Brewing Co.

from the yay dept

Anheuser-Busch is no stranger when it comes to silly little intellectual property conflicts. Sometimes the perp, sometimes the victim, the insanely large beer-maker often finds itself deviating from the business of making beer and instead landing in the courtroom. The company’s latest foray centered around a perceived large threat from a tiny little brewery called Natty Greene Brewing.

Last summer, Anheuser-Busch filed opposition to Natty Greene’s application to trademark “Natty Greene.” The company said it has been using the “Natty” name in connection with its line of beers since at least 1998 and that it has trademarks for “Natty Light” and “Fatty Natty” — also known as Natural Light beer — as well as its Natty Daddy brand. The company felt that the Natty Greene’s trademark would cause confusion among consumers.

Natty Greene is a small micro-brewery with a couple of locations out of North Carolina and they make craft beer. Anheuser-Busch is a macro-brewery if ever there was one and Natural Light is what college kids drink because it costs roughly the same as a thimble of sand in the Arabian Desert. The chance of someone attending a tasting at a Natty Greene location and somehow thinking the whole thing was coordinated by the same people who make Budweiser, Beck’s and Natural Light is effectively null.

And, in a rare sign that sense still exists in this crazy, crazy world, apparently the folks over at A-B agree.

Anheuser-Busch late last week agreed to drop its opposition to the trademark application Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing Co. is pursuing. David Sar, an attorney with the Greensboro law firm of Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard who handled the matter for Natty Greene’s, said Anheuser-Busch filed its withdrawal on Friday. Sar said it was withdrawn with “prejudice,” meaning it can’t be refiled. He added that the two sides reached a confidential resolution. The trademark office will now most likely grant Natty Greene’s its trademark, he said.

It’s a nice end to the story, I suppose, but the resolution leaves me questioning why any of this had to happen in the first place? With just a small application of the common-sense-juice to A-B’s lawyers’ brain-thoughts, a whole lot of time and money could have been avoided, considering we ended up in the same place as though no opposition had been filed anyway.

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Companies: anheuser-busch, natty greene

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Comments on “Anheuser-Busch Drops Trademark Opposition Against Natty Greene Brewing Co.”

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13 Comments
antidirt (profile) says:

Natty Greene is a small micro-brewery with a couple of locations out of North Carolina and they make craft beer. Anheuser-Busch is a macro-brewery if ever there was one and Natural Light is what college kids drink because it costs roughly the same as a thimble of sand in the Arabian Desert.

The fact that it’s so popular actually favors A-B, on both the confusion and the dilution claims it argued in the opposition. (You seem to assume it’s just confusion. The opposition says dilution as well.)

The chance of someone attending a tasting at a Natty Greene location and somehow thinking the whole thing was coordinated by the same people who make Budweiser, Beck’s and Natural Light is effectively null.

Why look at whether customers at the brewery are confused? If I saw this beer at the store (and I believe it’s available in a few states, not just the brewery), my first thought would be Natty Light. I don’t think it’s that crazy.

With just a small application of the common-sense-juice to A-B’s lawyers’ brain-thoughts, a whole lot of time and money could have been avoided, considering we ended up in the same place as though no opposition had been filed anyway.

They spent many months working out a settlement. Why assume the end result of that confidential settlement has them in the same exact position? That makes little sense.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“my first thought would be Natty Light.”

Seriously?? Have you looked at the labeling? Not even remotely similar.

The fact that the microbrewery wants to keep calling themselves “Natty Greene” is pretty solid evidence that there’s no substantial consumer confusion. The last thing in the world that Natty Greene would want is for people to think their product is an AB brand. That would pretty much ruin them.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Yes, we wouldn’t want to have A-B products confused with something that can’t possibly be remotely as horrible as theirs.

Now if there were some other brewery making pisswater as a side business to threatening distributors, retailers, and smaller breweries over turf, and making ridiculous trademark claims, then i might be confused.

The company said it has been using the “Natty” name in connection with its line of beers since at least 1998 and that it has trademarks for “Natty Light” and “Fatty Natty” — also known as Natural Light beer — as well as its Natty Daddy brand.

R U quite srs?

mcinsand (profile) says:

thanks for the reminder!

Thanks for the reminder. I need to get a Natty Greene’s growler refilled before the weekend.

As for getting name confusion, the argument becomes even more ridiculous when you consider where the beer is marketed. The beer is named for Nathaniel Greene, as well as the town where the beer is made: Greensboro.

In Greensboro, there will be little market confusion. Then again, if it’s sold out of Greensboro, it’ll be in a specialty section…one that’ll actually feature beer… so you won’t find a six-pack of Natural Lite or Bud Light anywhere near it. Those really belong in the soda section, anyway.

John (profile) says:

You know why this happens.... money

You know why this was filed by some lawyer. They got paid either way, and they’re paid to be “safe”. If they didn’t, and then they had a (perceived) problem down the road, they would be prejudiced because they didn’t file when they coulda shoulda woulda done so.

The laywer who did this doesn’t get less money for doing this, and might even get more, because now they got to bill for all those extra hours of confidential negotiation. Esp if they’re an outside law firm.

Sad to say the least.

Anyway, I’m not sure how you can dilute Natty Lite any more and not have plain water anyway.

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